OT: looking for advise on laptop upgrade

Clay Weber clay at claydoh.com
Tue May 21 03:32:28 UTC 2013

On Tuesday, May 21, 2013 02:48:02 AM Juan R. de Silva wrote:
> I have Dell Latitude D820 laptop with Dual Core 1.8GHz CPU and 1GB of
> RAM. The laptop is slightly over 6 years old.
I am using a Dell D630 with similar specs and age, originally with 2gb ram, 
but a 2.0 dual core cpu, and intel integrated graphics. My cpu has a 
slightly faster bus speed and more l2 cache. It originally had a 1.8ghz cpu, 
but I replaced the motherboard and in the process got the 2.0 .

> Until recent I was satisfied with it. However with advent of new
> technologies it started performing poorly with DEs like KDE4 or Unity.
> Since I do not consider switching to neither Xfce nor LXDE, the only
> choice I have is either to upgrade RAM up to 4GB, which would cost me
> with taxes around $80-90, or to buy a new laptop.
> However I'm not sure on 2 things:
> 1. Would such RAM upgrade actually give me real significant burst in
> performance?
Yes, a very noticeable effect. 1gb is pushing it, 2gb makes it quite 
manageable.I upped my ram to 4 gb(for about 40 dollars, from amazon. 


The price has gone up a little. Not 100 percent sure if this will work in your 
laptop, iirc the PC5300 ram is downward compatible with PC3200. It works 
well in mine :) Also not sure if the price is similar for your location.

> 2. This one is a tough one :-). 6 years old laptop could actually die at
> any time leaving me with 2 not need memory sticks and lost $90.
> So, I'm trying to make up my mind, whether to upgrade RAM or to forget
> about it and to save $80-90 rather adding them to buying a new laptop.

I don't have much money myself; I have been successful with replacing 
parts on my Dell as needed, less than 50 or so per repair or upgrade over 
the past 2.5 years I've had this. 

One caveat I discovered is hard drive speed. My d630 had a slow 5300 rpm 
drive, which I believe (in my case) was the choke point as there seems to 
be more disk i/o in recent KDE versions, a quickness to go to swap far too 
soon and often. The added ram reduced this quite a lot, but without 
tweaking the swappiness settings it was still happening. The swappiness 
settings  may be something to check out as a stopgap with your current 
1gb ram. 


What really fixed it for me was a closeout on ssd's at Staples this past 
Christmas - 60 dollars for a 64gb Kingston. I was looking for a new drive 
because I thought that my spinning drive was dieing. A larger spinning 
drive and the ssd were almost the same price, so I gambled on the small 

Boy is this thing effing *fast*. 

now, an ssd might not be the thing that works for you, but if you have 
access to a faster spinning drive (assuming you have a slow one) to try 
out, it might be something to consider. 

> Would somebody give me an advise on the subject and/or share his/her
> related experience, please? At least on the first item:-).

Other things to consider , as you mention, is a less old system. Plus 
perhaps extra things a new(er) laptop might bring: more usb ports, 
dvi/hdmi instead of vga output, etc. 

I want so badly to have  a newer laptop, or even a desktop, so I can get 
these things, but the time needed to save funds for it is just too long, and 
better put to more important things for me. You have to make the 
determination what is best for you. But even going to 2gb ram will make it 
more pleasant  for sure!

Clay Weber
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